PLAYBOY: What about guns? The Newtown shootings inspired many to call for stricter measures to prevent similar tragedies.
HANNITY: I support commonsense measures. We use armed guards to protect our money, armed guards to protect our Hollywood stars, armed guards to protect our athletes, armed guards to protect presidents and elected officials. I never want to wake up and hear another school shooting has happened again. What would be wrong with putting retired policemen and retired military people in schools? You don’t even have to put them in uniform. They’d be on the front line of defense to protect our nation’s children. I support that.
PLAYBOY: We already have more guns per capita than any other country.
HANNITY: I urge you to read John Lott Jr.’s book More Guns, Less Crime. But with that said, I understand the argument. I understand that a lot of people may not want to have a gun. But I feel strongly that 99.999 percent of law-abiding citizens should not be punished for the actions of either lunatics or criminals who have not been properly punished for past crimes.
PLAYBOY: You have a license to carry a gun in New York state, right?
HANNITY: Absolutely. I own a lot of firearms. I collect firearms. I have been around them my entire life. I’m 51 years old. I started shooting probably at the age of 10 or 11. I was a marksman at 12, and I can’t urge safety enough. I could bring you to my house right now, tell you where my guns are, and you would not get them. You could spend the next month there and you would never be able to gain access to them. I handle the weapons I have properly, and I also have easy access to a weapon to protect myself.
PLAYBOY: But a lot of people don’t use guns properly. A dog in Florida recently shot its owner in the leg.
HANNITY: A lot of people are stupid with cars and get drunk and start driving. A lot of people get high and get in a car too. Every time you get in an airplane it’s dangerous. Life is dangerous. You know, I wrote a book,Deliver Us From Evil. In the past century, a hundred million people were slaughtered. There was Stalin, Hitler, the killing fields in Cambodia, Communism, Nazism, fascism, imperial Japan—and now it’s terrorism. There are a lot of evil people in the world. If you’re a rapist or a pedophile and you don’t give a damn about anybody but yourself, I don’t think any law is going to stop you from committing the evil atrocity that is in your heart. And I want law-abiding people to have the choice. You don’t have to have a weapon if you don’t want one, but those who do want one should have the right to have it. Our framers and our founders were very clear on the issue of the Second Amendment, and they weren’t talking about deer hunting.
PLAYBOY: Next issue. More than 30 academies of science across the world have concluded that global warming is caused by human activity, but you’ve cast doubt on climate change for years.
HANNITY: You want the short answer or the long? Either way, I think it’s a crock of shit. I don’t believe it’s true, and I think that people have been put in a state of panic. I think the environmental movement is rooted in a political agenda, which is that capitalism is evil, that people are raping and pillaging the planet for profit. And I think it is rooted in redistribution.
I find people like Al Gore are the biggest, phoniest hypocrites of all. If global warming and carbon emissions are so bad, how does Al Gore justify getting on a private jet like we caught him on? How does he justify making money selling Current TV to Al Jazeera? That’s all oil money, Al. I can respect a guy like Ed Begley Jr. riding around on his bike. I even offered to bail Daryl Hannah out of jail after she was arrested for protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. She uses her own biofuels to drive her car. Beautiful! But you’ve got these other Learjet, limousine liberals, the hypocrites and Hollywood phonies. Leonardo DiCaprio flying around on New Year’s from Australia to Vegas, and he’s lecturing people about the cars they’re driving. So hypocritical. Come on!
PLAYBOY: How should we be managing our natural resources?
HANNITY: Hey, listen. I wouldn’t mind having a car that runs on water. My attitude is that we should seek out new technologies and inventions that will advance the human condition. And at the same time, we should be drilling, we should be fracking, we should be the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, we should be building refineries, which we haven’t built in 35 years, and nuclear facilities. France gets 75 percent of its power from nuclear plants. If the French can, we can. America is inhibited because of government regulation. You know all these people out of work? The minute you start drilling for natural gas and oil, every state can benefit, just as North Dakota does, which now has an unemployment rate of three percent. If we lessen our dependence on foreign oil, we’re less involved in the Middle East, where there’s such political instability, and the price of gas goes down to where the average American can pay less than $2 a gallon. That’s a tax cut for everybody.
PLAYBOY: Do you think you’d ever run for public office?
HANNITY: You know, whatever God has planned for me, I guess I’ll know what to do.
PLAYBOY: It sounds as though you think about it.
HANNITY: No. Not much. I would have to move out of state. Hell would freeze over before I would run in New York. I’m Florida-bound one of these days. That’s where I want to live.
PLAYBOY: Not Alaska? You had Sarah Palin on your show 55 times. Someone calculated that she cost Fox News $19,868 per appearance. Was she worth it?
HANNITY: Absolutely. She’s a great guest. I like her a lot personally. I think she has a lot to add to the national debate, and I’d have her on again.
PLAYBOY: What’s your take on Donald Trump continuing to dabble in conservative politics?
HANNITY: He’s a character; he’s fun. The ties I wear on the air come from the Donald Trump collection. Listen, he’s great for the political contest, and I love his outspokenness and enthusiasm. You never know. If he’s ever able to give up aspects of his business, and that includes giving up running his TV show, the Donald could be a player. In the meantime, I enjoy watching him.
PLAYBOY: Trump was one of the most vocal skeptics of Obama’s American citizenship. You’ve also said Obama grew up in Kenya. Do you regret saying that now?
HANNITY: But he did grow up in Kenya, and he told The New York Times that he went to a school there and one of the most beautiful things on the planet is Islamic prayer at sunset.
PLAYBOY: Are you fueling the myth that Obama’s a Muslim from Africa by saying that?
HANNITY: I never fueled the myth. How do you come up with this stuff? He did go to a Muslim school. He writes about it in his own book.
PLAYBOY: He did not grow up in Kenya.
HANNITY: He went to a Muslim school in Indonesia, or wherever it was, Kenya. I forget. Now you’ve got me. I think it was Indonesia. I’m trying to remember his biography. It’s going back so long. He admits he went to a Muslim school. It’s on his audiobook, if you want a tape of it—you can hear him say it himself.
I’m a Christian. All people are the children of God. I’m just telling you what Obama said in his own words. He didn’t go to a madrassa, which has negative connotations, but he did study the Koran and Islam and learn prayers that he could recite with a perfect accent, according to Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. As for the issue of his birth certificate, I thought that was one of the oddest things, a noncontroversy that the White House easily could have ended but didn’t. If you’ve got the birth certificate, just release it and move on. That’s what I said.
PLAYBOY: Let’s talk about the racial dimension of having successful black conservatives on your show attacking the president. What’s the fascination?
HANNITY: Who? I don’t know who you’re talking about.
PLAYBOY: Dr. Ben Carson, Allen West, J.C. Watts, Herman Cain——
HANNITY: You know, maybe you see life through the prism of race. I don’t. We’re Americans. I don’t look at life that way. You seem to want to make this a race issue that doesn’t exist in my life. All right, so I guess we’ve had on some African Americans who oppose Obama. They’re human beings. I mean, if you want to deal with the racial component of electing the first African American president, I think it was good for America. The beauty of our founders and framers, while nobody is perfect, is they put into place a system of governing where we can right the wrongs and correct injustices. Through their wisdom, that is what this country has shown it is able to do. Sometimes too slowly, but we usually get it right in the end.
PLAYBOY: Okay, let’s switch gears. Do you ever miss Alan Colmes?
HANNITY: I see him all the time. Things have worked out pretty well for both of us.
PLAYBOY: What ended Hannity & Colmes?
HANNITY: We were at the point where the format was problematic. Let’s say we had an eight-minute segment with one or two guests. Colmes and I would get in maybe one question each, and then you’re fighting to get your words in. We just felt that it had run its course, and he was happy to go to Fox News Radio.
PLAYBOY: How often do you see Rupert Murdoch?
HANNITY: I don’t. He has more important things to do than meet with little old Sean Hannity. But we’ve bumped into each other. I ran into him on the street once and said, “Hi, Mr. Murdoch.” And he said, “Ah.” So he knew immediately who I was, which was reassuring.
PLAYBOY: What do you think of his position on climate change, which he believes is occurring, and his statement that the Keystone XL pipeline isn’t needed? He’s also in favor of gun control, including a ban on assault weapons.
HANNITY: I might disagree with him on all that. But one of the great things about working at Fox is I’ve never been told what to say or what positions to take, nor has anybody that I know. There’s a real liberty and freedom here that I doubt exists elsewhere, from what I’ve heard from my friends in other media.
PLAYBOY: What did you think when you heard about News Corporation’s phone-hacking scandal that implicated key Murdoch staffers?
HANNITY: It’s a corporation that has anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 employees. As somebody who had employees once in my life, people who worked for me…you know you’re always going to have one or two bad employees. We have bad government officials all the time. It reflects on them, not on the company or the corporation.
PLAYBOY: You never trained as a journalist. Any regrets?
HANNITY: None. Absolutely not. Look, you can have people with multiple degrees who have gone to the finest journalism schools in the country. I’ll give them a microphone and teach them how to do it, and they wouldn’t be able to pull it off. You either have this innately or not, I think. You have a desire, first, to communicate, and for me, I just loved talk radio when I was a kid. I wanted to get behind a radio microphone, and when I eventually did, the minute the light went on, something changed. All the stuff started flying out of me, and people have hated me ever since.
PLAYBOY: Does it bother you that some people hate you?
HANNITY: Never. I don’t care, not even a little bit.
PLAYBOY: That’s good. What’s your secret?
HANNITY: I’ll tell you a story. There was somebody who works at Fox—I won’t mention this person’s name—and one of these websites started attacking this person. The first thing I said was, “Welcome to the big leagues.” If they’re not attacking you, you’re not doing your job effectively. I also said, “If you want to feel better, go google my name.”
PLAYBOY: How often do you google your name?
HANNITY: Never. And I don’t read blogs except to get information. I don’t read comments and stuff. Never read any of it. Don’t care. I accepted a long time ago that people aren’t going to like me for some of the things I say, and that’s okay. I don’t get invited to the White House Christmas party or the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, but so what? I concluded a long time ago that most media people are biased. They don’t like conservatives. They’re never going to like conservatives. I don’t want to hang out with those people, whoever they are. I’m really happy hanging out with my close friends, my family and my kids.
PLAYBOY: Are you the same at home as you are on your shows?
HANNITY: It’s funny. My kids watch me do radio sometimes and go, “Dad, you’re screaming into the microphone!” And I’ll go, [speaks softly] “Hi, this is Sean. Welcome to the program.” And they understand why that wouldn’t work.
No, I’m essentially the same person. The thoughts are the same, the expressions are the same. Everything is from my heart, and I think deeply about any issue before I take a position on it. I spend a lot of time preparing every day. I try to be as knowledgeable on a subject as I can be. The volume might be a little higher on my show, but you have to keep things interesting.
PLAYBOY: How does your wife handle your outspokenness?
HANNITY: Everybody in her life told her not to marry me. Even the minister who married us pulled her aside and said, “Don’t marry this guy.”
PLAYBOY: Ha! Why?
HANNITY: We had a big fight when we went through our pre-marriage counseling, and I said, “That’s the problem with the liberal church.” And he didn’t appreciate it. So he ended the session. What’s funny is that he married a number of our friends at the time. This is 20 years ago. We’re the only ones still together.
PLAYBOY: What are the keys to a lasting marriage?
HANNITY: Don’t leave things to fester, or you become resentful of each other. Be honest about everything.